The WA School Surfing Title finals at Trigg Beach on Friday have been cancelled due to an unprecedented number of shark sightings.
More than 100 young surfers from 28 high schools across the state were due to battle for the title from 9am.
But repeated sightings of bronze whaler sharks between Trigg and Hillarys have prompted Surfing WA to send students home and postpone the event a few weeks.
The Department of Fisheries set baited drum lines off Bennion Beach near Trigg about 4.20pm on Thursday, sparking accusations from WA Greens MLC Lynn MacLaren.
The department said there had been an “unprecedented” 61 shark sightings reported in the area between June 6 and August 25.
Most of the sharks have been reported in the area between Mettams Pool and Watermans Bay.
Surfing WA chief executive Mark Lane said it was the first time a major surfing even had to be cancelled in at least 25 years.
“We’ve got no option but to err on the side of caution,” he said. “We consulted all the teachers involved from the 28 schools and everyone agreed we’d have to postpone and come back in a couple of weeks.”
The competition ultimately determines which high school has the best surfers in WA — with competitors coming from Kalbarri in the north and Albany in the south.
But it is likely not all schools will be able to attend the rescheduled event.
“There’s a week that we’ve earmarked, but there are possibly a couple of days that will lessen the impact,” Mr Lane said. “We’re hoping to get as many back as we can, but at the same time remembering some have driven from Kalbarri and Albany just for today.”
Ms MacLaren has accused the Department of Fisheries of breaching its own guidelines by establishing shark capture gear off Perth’s northern beaches in response to the record sightings of two metre sharks.
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Source: perthnow.com.au / Author: JOEL KELLY